By Juliet Mulholland, Team Leader – Sandy, Kestrel Way Food store

I’ve worked in store now for six years and I always try to keep close to what’s going on in my area. That’s how I found out that Co-op are getting behind Talk Money Week, which runs from today until Sunday 14 November.

I’ve always been quite money conscious because I grew up in financial hardship and witnessed my mum take on significant debt to provide for us as kids. She was actually declared bankrupt in the end and that’s always been a big wake up call for me.

I’ve endeavoured to be smart with my cash and educate myself to become more savvy with my finances. That’s why my ears always prick up when I see anything which could help me manage my money.

Time spent researching is time well spent

When I applied to go to Uni I received the maximum loan and grants possible, but once there I looked into it further, and with a little extra effort I filled out the forms to apply for a hardship fund. It was worth it and this extra support alongside a part-time job really helped me.

If I’m honest, I’m a bit of a bargain queen! I’m always looking where I can save money. A big tip from me is – before you buy something, check out their website and google for related offer/discount codes – you’ll be surprised how much you can save on your purchase.

I do have a credit card, but I always try to pay off the full balance to avoid paying interest, and I earn Amazon vouchers by using it. It’s working for me and I’m confident I can pay back a small amount of credit each month.

A few years back I had a car on finance and was attempting to save for a holiday when I received another offer of a loan from my bank. I’d always thought loans were worse than having credit cards, but after taking the time to actually consider it and do some research, I found the loan’s interest rate was actually lower than across my other debts – so I could essentially consolidate all my debts into one. It’s worked for me and it’s the best financial decision I’ve ever made!

We help our colleagues’ financial wellbeing

Most people have some form of debt, but not everyone has access to the information they need to get educated about money. Many people just need a starting point to make this happen.

At Co-op there’s so much support available to colleagues to help educate around finances and money worries. And I think it’s fantastic that we have things like Talk Money Week – you need those points in the year with clear signposts to help and advise, so that money worries don’t fall through the cracks and begin to escalate, especially with Christmas around the corner. Make sure you check out our managing finances and wellbeing pages on the Colleague Site to find out more.

From having a look at the support that’s available I recently joined one of our credit unions and now save £10 a month direct from my pay and save it for emergencies. It can sometimes be little sparks of inspiration which provide motivation to cut back on one thing to make way for investing in another – especially those treats we all need now and again to keep a healthy mind and have something to look forward to.

And don’t forget that if you think your wellbeing is suffering because of financial stress, you can get free confidential counselling through Lifeworks. I’ve not needed to, but I find it such a comfort knowing that there’s someone at the end of the phone if I do need to talk.

My ‘Poddlebox’ experience

I bet you’re wondering what the heck it is. Well it’s where you can hear our colleagues’ thoughts on some of the Talk Money Week content in our very own audio version of a TV favourite – you know the one I mean! I took part recently and really loved it.

We had a good mix of people with different life experiences – some with kids, some who managed their finances through spreadsheets and other who were in debt. We listened to a few clips from Talk Money Week which shared information and advice and then we shared our own thoughts on what we’d heard, and what had resonated with us. You can check out what I and the others had to say here.

For more information about the events, podcasts, videos and resources for you to book on to and access this week during Talk Money Week – click here.